Just as one Stark finally evaded Ramsay Bolton's grasp, another arrived to take her place. After Sansa's escape, it seemed like viewers might finally get a break from Ramsay's constant torture but of course that was not to be. Instead, Rickon Stark was hand delivered to Westeros' resident serial killer by Smalljon Umber. Some fans are doing their best to rationalize this, and one popular theory involves the entire situation being a convoluted ploy on the part of House Umber to foil Ramsay. If that were true, then that would mean the head presented to Ramsay as evidence of Rickon's identity wasn't the direwolf's at all. The dearly departed Shaggydog might not actually be gone! Is the Shaggydog head a fake on Game of Thrones?
The biggest sign that that severed head might not be Shaggydog's is the fact that it seemed much too small. Direwolves are set apart from their normal wolf counterparts by their sheer size; Jon's wolf Ghost is massive, and was visibly taller than the table Jon's body was laid out on. The last time we saw a beheaded direwolf (R.I.P. Robb, R.I.P. Grey Wind), the head was pretty huge. Comparatively, the head Lord Umber had thrown onto the table seemed closer in size to that of a normal wolf.
Unfortunately, Art Parkinson, the actor who plays Rickon, confirmed that the dead wolf was Shaggydog. He told The Huffington Post, "It was a little bit disappointing because, you know, looking at the dogs we had on set...and that you’d never really get to hang out with them again. When I read that Shaggydog was dead, I was definitely a little upset." That's disappointing, but he was a little more positive about the Lord Umber double agent conspiracy theory: "Well, you know, the show is so full of twists and turns, so it is possible, but it would be disappointing if Jon Umber did really betray us."
Actors have been known to lie about the show to protect spoilers before (like Kit Harington insisting that he was definitely totally not at all dead up until the point Jon came back), but it's unlikely Parkinson would lie about this. Then again, he did warn fans to "keep an eye out for the little details" and comparing severed wolf heads for size definitely counts as doing so.
While Game of Thrones is a show that loves a twist, from the sound of it this plot may play out fairly conventionally. Anything is possible, but there is no concrete evidence that Jon Umber is pulling a fast one on Ramsay. After all, Ramsay has no idea what Rickon looks like, so if it was a ploy why put Rickon in danger at all? Just to fool the audience watching at home?
Rickon losing his direwolf is just the latest in a long string of Stark tragedies, so let's hope he finds a way to take his anger out on Ramsay. Then this whole thing might be worth it.